This Week’s Episode of POP Parenting Radio

Why Raise Leaders?

Raising Hand

This week on POP Parenting, we are asking parents, “Why raise leaders?” Leadership training is one of our core values and focal points of the POP Parenting message. In fact, one of our tag lines is “training leaders from cradle to college.” But often, we hear parents say that their child isn’t really leadership material. In this episode, we offer a new definition for leadership that should inspire every parent to want to focus on leadership training with every child.

By the way, we apologize that the show notes and podcasts are up so late this week. Sunday was my baby shower. Jody put the whole thing together, and she did an AWESOME job! It was an amazing shower for baby Rhema Joy, who is due in August. I’m going to write a blog post soon about some of the super cool things we did at the shower, so stay tuned. I had extended family in town this weekend and my college roomie — it was a BLAST! But between entertaining and all the work Jody had to do for the shower, we weren’t able to get the podcast up over the weekend.

raise leaders

Jody & Jenni at the shower for baby Rhema Joy

From left to right: (back row) Jenni's mom, Ellen; Jenni's grandma Rita; Jenni, Jenni's Aunt Andrea (front row) Jenni's daughter Eden (my oldest daughter Sky couldn't make it; she was finishing an online final exam for Western Civ)

From left to right:
(back row) Jenni’s mom, Ellen; Jenni’s grandma Rita; Jenni, Jenni’s Aunt Andrea
(front row) Jenni’s daughter Eden (my oldest daughter Sky couldn’t make it; she was finishing an online final exam for her college Western Civ class)

Jenni with her college roommate and dear friend Ilana

Jenni with her college roommate and dear friend Ilana

This Week’s Show Topic

During this episode, we talked about what it really means to be a leader, and why parents should groom this in every child. We also offered personal stories and practical tools for grooming leadership in kids.

  • Segment #1  is an introduction and some background information about leadership training
  • Segment #2 takes us into the traits that leadership education instills in kids
  • Segment #3 offers some practical things you can do groom leadership
  • Segment #4 is the “Caught in the Act” segment. We talk to a dad who was caught saying some very special things to his 2 1/2 year old son.

In the first segment, we reference the National Alliance for Education and Transition. We’ve linked to their website in case you want to check them out for yourself.

Caught in the Act

The last segment of each POP Parenting episode is dedicated to a parent or childcare giver who was “caught in the act” of doing something extra-ordinary. This week’s parent is dad Tim Murphy who was nominated by his wife Ashley.

Ashley wrote a blog post about something pretty amazing that she overheard Tim saying to their 2 1/2 year old son Caden. We share an excerpt of what Ashley wrote, and we talk to Tim about his inspiration and goals for the conversation.

Caught in the Act

Tim & Caden Murphy

If you’d like to check out Ashley’s blog, you can find her at Do Your Best Sanctuary.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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The Surprising Power of Stress

stress

“You look stressed.” Take note, those are words you should NEVER say to Jody Hagaman! Someone telling me to “calm down” or “don’t stress” are words that can push me over the edge.

I understand that most people don’t like stress, but a little bit of stress pulls out my best work.  Now, I’m not talking about chronic stress or stress that is the result of death, divorce, finances or relationship woes. I’m referring to the stress that comes from hosting an event, a hard deadline or running a program of some sort. That type of stress causes me to dig deep within myself and really discover what I’m made of.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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A Tale of Two Kids — Which One Is Yours?

A tale of two kids, wisdom and foolishness, sibling rivalry, opposites, girls, teens, bored

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”

Sounds like Dickens was writing about the teen years.

Our kids do not always realize that they have their entire lives ahead of them. They can choose to have EVERYTHING before them or they can choose to have NOTHING before them. The question is – which will they choose? Will it be an age of wisdom or an age of foolishness? Depending on their choice, what at first appears to be the “worst of times” may turn out to be the “best of times” for them.

Here is a tale of two kids wanting the same end result. For the sake of clarity, we will call the first child “A” and the second child “B.”

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Reinventing the Habit Loop

reinventing the habit loop, reinventing the habit loop, habit, resolutions, changing habits, trigger, cue, reward, habitual, decision making, decisions, neurological routines, behavior patterns, craving

Do you ever get completely annoyed or frustrated because you can’t get your kids to turn a light off when they leave a room or put their homework away after they finish studying or pick up the remnants of their food-fest after making a snack? These are all examples of habits. And guess what – you can change them by reinventing the habit loop (I’ll explain the habit loop in a moment).         

Habits can be developed either outside our consciousness or by deliberate design. Some are extremely useful, such as the habits of brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes without having to think about what you’re doing. Others are not so useful, such as biting your fingernails or picking open scabs (yuck! right?).

Habits often occur without our permission, but the good news is that a bad one can be changed by fiddling with its parts. According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, at the core of every habitual pattern is a habit loop.

The habit loop can be broken down into three basic steps.

Step One

First, there is a cue, which is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode. The cue can be internal (a feeling or a thought) or external (such as a time of day, the company of certain people or the sight of the Golden Arches).

Step Two

The second part of the habit loop is the routine, which is the behavior that leads to a reward. The routine can be physical (pulling into the drive thru), cognitive (remembering information for a test), or emotional (feeling anxious about speaking in public).

Step Three

The third part is the reward. Not surprisingly, the reward can also be physical (the taste of your favorite burger), cognitive (interesting information), or emotional (feeling relaxed when reading a good book). The reward is what determines if a particular habit loop is worth remembering.

Cue – Routine – Reward

The Birth of a Habit

Duhigg explains it like this: the basal ganglia, a small region of the brain situated at the base of the forebrain, play an important role in stored habits. Interestingly, scientists have discovered that mental activity in this part of the brain actually decreases as a behavior becomes more habitual. When a habit emerges, the brain becomes more efficient (and needs fewer resources) because automatic patterns take over.

Eventually, a habit is born. When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard or diverts focus to other tasks.

So without deliberately fighting a habit (which means finding new routines), the pattern will unfold automatically. But, if we take control of the habit loop, we can override the unwanted behavior. And once you create a new pattern (by creating new neurological routines), you can force the bad tendencies into the background and create a new habit.

Understanding the habit loop makes habits easier to control. By changing the cue or the reward in a habit loop, you can change the pattern of behavior. Thus, reinventing the habit loop.

Again, habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. The pattern starts with a cue (this is the trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use), is then followed by an almost automatic action or routine (physical, mental or emotional), and is reinforced by a reward (helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future) and the cycle is ready to begin again.

Over time, this loop becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and then craving emerges.

Cue – Routine – Reward

habit loop

The Important Role of Cravings

By learning to observe the cues and rewards, we can change the routines. But first, we have to understand the role of cravings. The craving powers the habit loop.

As we associate cues with certain rewards, a subconscious craving emerges in our brain that starts the habit loop spinning. If we can find a new way of satisfying the craving, we can change a habit.

For example, let’s say you have developed a habit of craving something sweet after dinner. The last of the dishes are put away, the tables are wiped down and a clean kitchen has become a cue that inspires a craving for something sweet. In the past, you have plopped on the couch with a bowl of ice cream, but it has taken a toll on your waistline, and you want to change the habit. The cue isn’t going to change. A clean kitchen will still prompt a craving for something sweet. And the reward has to satisfy your sweet tooth or you are not likely to be successful. So what else could satisfy your craving for something sweet? Maybe instead of ice cream you could pop a frozen banana in the food processor with a ¼ cup of almond milk and a teaspoon of cocoa powder. This is an example of changing the routine to get the reward and satisfy the craving.

What if you want to develop a new habit that you don’t already have. Let’s say you want to exercise regularly? The habit loop can help, especially when you understand the role of developing a craving. Your brain must start craving a reward in order for the habit to take root — like your body craving the endorphins it gets from jogging.

Using Habits With Our Kids

Make a plan for a new habit you would like to develop for yourself. Identify what you can use as a cue (maybe leaving exercise clothes out the night before), the steps involved in creating a routine and the reward this new habit will deliver. Once you figure it out for yourself, sit with your kids and talk about how you can create a new habit loop for some of the habits they would like to change.

Let’s say you want your kids to develop the habit of unpacking their backpacks when they get home. First you need a cue. Perhaps you could post a reminder by the front door so they see it as soon as they walk in. Then you need a reward. Maybe they can have a snack after their bag is unpacked. The routine is to clean out their backpack

  • put their books on their desk in preparation for homework
  • put any important notices or forms in your inbox
  • throw out any garbage
  • drop their gym clothes in the laundry room
  • clean out their lunch bag
  • hang up the backpack so they repack it at the end of the day

Once they have completed the routine, you can tell them that they get to enjoy a delicious snack in peace and with a clear conscience because they have completed this important routine. Over time, if they are consistent, the front door will become the cue (you won’t need the reminder), and a craving will develop for that sense of peace and clear conscious as they relax with a well deserved snack. The craving for that state of mind and the snack are vital to the success of the habit.

 

Have any new habits you want your kids to develop or old ones you want them to break? Tell us about it in the comments below or on Facebook.

 

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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The Congressional Award

A Secret Weapon for Rising Stars

congressional award, amazing kids, secret weapon

Most of us have heard of the Eagle Scout Award through the Boy Scouts. But what about the Congressional Award? If that one is unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone. Keep reading because this prestigious award is not only a bright gold star on any student’s resume, but the activities they do to earn it are life changing.

The Congressional Award was established by the United States Congress in 1979 to recognize initiative, service and achievement in young people. It is a non-competitive program open to all 14-23 year olds (kids can register at 13 ½ and start working on it at 14).

I first learned about the Congressional Award when my son was about to graduate from high school. By then, Chase had so much on his plate that it didn’t seem possible to add one more thing – or so I thought at that time. Looking back, that was really foolish on my part.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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The Secret to Raising an Accomplished Kid

raising an accomplished kid, opera, the hobbit, star of the show,

What will your child accomplish this year? A year can hold a multitude of achievements, but there is a secret to raising an accomplished kid that many people overlook. 

Recently I was talking to an admissions officer at one of my daughter’s top choice colleges, and after discussing some of the highlights of her resume, the admissions officer asked, “Are we talking about one student?” She was amazed that one student could have “so many” accomplishments. But to be perfectly honest, I was amazed at her amazement.

My 16 year old is focused, and she works hard at pursuing her passion. But she has not done anything truly extraordinary. She has not done anything that any motivated 16 year old couldn’t do.

She wasn’t a semifinalist in the prestigious Intel Science Competition while living in a homeless shelter like Long Island high school student Samantha Garvey. She didn’t receive a $1 million celebrity investment in an app she had written like 17 year old tech wizard Nick D’Aliosio did. She didn’t gather over 170,000 signatures on a petition to insist that a woman should moderate one of the presidential debates like three girls her age from New Jersey did. And she is certainly not a Nobel Prize laureate like young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.

The way I see it, this admissions officer’s statement was not actually a commentary on my child’s “exceptional achievements” but rather an indictment of society’s woefully low expectations.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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What is serving you well?

Drinking tea or coffee and writing notes

Earlier this year, I asked myself a question that was a real game changer for me. I asked, “What is serving me well in my life?” But to answer that question, I found myself first asking the opposite question. “What isn’t serving me well?” For some reason, that one was easier for me to tackle.

The first thing that came to mind when I asked the second question was TV before bed. I had a made a weird observation. Whenever I crashed on the couch at the end of the day and watched TV right before I went to sleep, I had a much more difficult time getting up the next day. I almost felt a little hung over in the morning. But if I skipped TV and spent the late evening doing other things — stretching, journaling, reading — I had more energy the next day.

It turns out there’s science behind this. Blue light, which comes from a variety of sources but includes the light from TV, phones, computers and tablets, interrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm and affects sleep. Since this discovery, we’ve made a new rule in our house. All computers, phones and other electronic devices get collected about 90 minutes before bed.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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This 1 Habit Could Change Everything

habit word on computer pc keyboard key

What if you could focus on ONE thing, and that ONE thing could change EVERYthing? That’s exactly what happened when a man named Paul O’Neill took over  an international aluminum company that was failing in the late 80’s. And the same habit can overhaul your life too.

Shareholders and financial analysts panicked when O’Neill took the helm of Alcoa and began a highly irregular focus on safety. He didn’t talk about increasing profits. He didn’t talk about lowering costs. He didn’t talk about anything that a CEO of company as big as Alcoa typically talks about. Instead, he was laser focused on what appeared to be a strange obsession with safety.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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I Wish I Had This For My Older Kids

Passport2Purity

When I saw the opportunity to review FamilyLife’s Passport 2 Purity, I jumped on it! I have an 11-year-old boy, and I knew this would be perfect timing for him. My older kids have had “the talk,” but they have all been very respectful about not sharing that information with the younger siblings. So I was pretty sure my Sammy didn’t know much about this stuff. (I was right!)

The Passport 2 Purity program is designed help prepare your child for their journey into adolescence. Let’s face it, the world they are walking into is much different than when we were young. Their’s is a world of sexting, cyber bullying, online stalking and perhaps the most blatant moral defiance in the history of our country. Innocence is under attack, and you cannot win the battle with a single awkward talk or a strict set of rules. The only real defense for your child is a strong relationship with you and with God.

FamilyLife developed Passport 2 Purity to assist parents in building heart-to-heart communication with their preteens, while laying a foundation of purity that will prepare them for the potentially turbulent years ahead. It is actually designed to be done as a mother-daughter or father-son team, over the course of a weekend getaway, but we broke all the rules.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Are You Wasting Your Time With Sports And Music?

Children_playing_soccer

Learning to play an instrument can do great things for brain development, and playing a sport can improve physical fitness, help kids learn discipline, sportsmanship and team work. But none of it does much good if kids are not actively engaged and willing to practice or train.

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” There is something to be said for the quality of practice, but this presents an added challenge to parents. Not only do we have to motivate our kids to spend part of their day rehearsing music or training for a sport, but we have to make sure they are doing it well enough to grow.

A few years ago, a controversial book hit the New York Times Best Sellers List. It was called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and in it, author Amy Chua recounted stories about locking her daughter out in the cold and threatening to burn her child’s stuffed animals if she didn’t spend hours practicing piano. Is it any wonder that by the end of the book, the daughter hated her mom?

It was clear that Chua wanted what she thought was the best for her children, and she believed that her methods were a necessary means to an end, but she missed the most important part of motivation — desire. Her kids did not want to be musical prodigies — she wanted that for them.

Our kids were not born to fulfill our own dreams; they were not put on this earth to make us look good, and their destiny is not to fulfill our hopes for them. They each have their own purpose, and when it comes to sports and music, we are only wasting our time (and theirs) if we strong arm them into doing what we want, as opposed to what they want.

What Is The Goal?

On the flip side, sometimes we have to coach our kids to have a bigger picture mindset when it comes to extra curricular activities. I know many kids who based their entire childhood and adolescence on a sport or music with no actual plans for what comes next.

Let’s take a boy for example who loved swimming. He joined the swim team and went to practice five days a week. He swam all through middle and high school, and even got a scholarship to swim in college.

He randomly picked a business major in college, and although he got decent grades, he wasn’t really there for academics. He was there to swim. But then one day, he graduated. Swimming was over. Life had to start. But he had not planned for that, so he moved back home and began looking for a job. He had no idea what he really wanted to do with his life because up until that point, his whole world had been about swimming. He accepted a job at a bank to make money, but he didn’t necessarily like it — he tolerated it. At 25, he felt lost. He got up and went to work everyday, but inside, he felt unfulfilled.

He had a girlfriend and figured they would eventually get married. He would buy a house and raise a family, and he would be relatively happy, in spite of a quiet restlessness in his spirit. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he wanted to more. He wanted to do something meaningful. He wanted to make a difference, but he had no idea how. And once there was a mortgage to pay and a family to support, he realized he would have to put those thoughts aside. Maybe one day he would go back to school, he told himself.

He is not much different than the girl who spent her childhood and adolescence playing the flute. She practiced everyday. She played in the school orchestra and the community youth orchestra. She won all sorts of awards for her music. She enjoyed it, but she didn’t give much thought to what she will do after school because her focus was always on the next concert or the next competition.

When it was time to think about college, she knew that her music resume will help her get scholarships, but wasn’t sure that she necessarily wanted to major in music, and she didn’t think she wanted to attend a music conservatory. She got accepted to a good liberal arts school, and of course, she joined their orchestra. She started out as a music major, but deep down, she was growing tired of just playing the flute. It was something that she was always good at, and she like it well enough growing up, but she didn’t want her whole life to be about the flute.

The problem was that she didn’t know what she did want. She thought maybe she would try psychology, so she took a bunch of psych classes, but it didn’t seem like a good fit. She spent a semester taking classes to fulfill her general education requirements, while she tried to figure it all out. The next semester she thought maybe she would want to go to law school, so she enrolled in political science classes. But soon she realized that this isn’t what it either.

By the end of her junior year, she had yet to declare a major, and she realized that would  have to stay for at least another year to graduate. Her scholarship money wouldn’t stretch another year, so she would have to take out more student loans, but she still had no clue what she wanted to do.

This is both an expensive and a time consuming way to find yourself! But it’s a pretty common scenario.

Sports and music are enormously valuable, and for some kids, they can be a great avenue to college scholarships. Some kids will even want to pursue a career in a sports or music related field. I have a 15-year-old nephew who is a great athlete. His parents have been helping him groom for the pro sports world his entire life. Not because it’s what they wanted — because it’s what he wanted. Even as a little boy, Steven was fascinated with sports. He memorized all sorts of players and their stats. I have no doubt that Steven will go into a sports-related career.

My own daughter is a musician. She is passionate about music. She’s been an opera singer for six years and has appeared in ten operas (three youth operas and seven professional operas). She plays four instruments, loves musical theatre, studies theory in her free time, and writes her own music. She and her friend just finished recording their first professional single. She fully intends to go to music school after high school, and she is totally committed to devoting her life to music.

Not every kid who plays sports or music has to be willing to devote their life to it, but before we let our kids throw their entire childhood into a sport or an instrument, we have to make sure they have a bigger plan for their life. The plan can include sports and music, but only as part of the bigger picture. We do our kids no justice when we allow them to hyper focus on an extra curricular activity without helping them find a sense of purpose.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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